View of the Waterline model at the Waterline Museum at Fort Vechten
The New Dutch Water Defense Line (Nieuwe Waterlinie): Preserving Historical Qualities in a Context of Very High Spatial Pressure


  • Eric Luiten
  • Léa Kayrouz




value case, ecosystemic thinking, multi-actor, heritage, stakeholders


The Dutch Water Defense Line (Hollandse Waterlinie) is a historic defense system in the Netherlands that integrates innovative flood defense mechanisms with the country’s lowland topography across a 200 km span. Despite its effectiveness during periods of conflict, technological advancements rendered the defense system obsolete, letting it fall into a state of neglect. The Waterline laid dormant for a few decades until revitalization effort began in 2001 - a multi-stakeholder endeavor encompassing heritage preservation, nature conservation and spatial development (UNESCO n.d.). In a densely inhabited area, multi-level collaborations were needed to identify new ways to connect water management and heritage preservation. Collaborative efforts among governmental bodies, local communities and private enterprise facilitated the repurposing of historical forts into venues for cultural activities, tourism, farming and hospitality. The successful revitalization of the Dutch Waterline serves as a compelling example of the value case methodology we promote in the course “Water Systems Design: Learning from the Past for Resilient Water Futures.” It is an example where heritage preservation is intricately linked with economic development, environmental sustainability and social well-being. As a model for eco- and hydro-systemic thinking, the Dutch Waterline offers valuable lessons for designing resilient water futures and nurturing sustainable landscapes.

How to Cite

Luiten, E., & Kayrouz, L. (2024). The New Dutch Water Defense Line (Nieuwe Waterlinie): Preserving Historical Qualities in a Context of Very High Spatial Pressure. Blue Papers, 3(1).





methodologies and case studies

Author Biographies

Eric Luiten

Eric Luiten is a registered landscape architect and part-time full professor of landscape architecture at TU Delft. Between 2005 and 2014 he held the Belvedere Chair on Heritage and Spatial Design at TU Delft. Previously Luiten was Government Advisor on Landscape and Water and Chief Architect for National Rail. He was co-founder and editor for the Dutch professional review Blauwe Kamer and chairs the board of the foundation Landscape Architecture Europe.

Léa Kayrouz

Léa Kayrouz is a student assistant for the Department of History of Architecture and Urban Planning at TU Delft’s Faculty of Architecture where she is currently pursuing her Msc degree since 2022. Lea received her BArch from the American University of Beirut but she also studied in London and Tokyo in the meantime. In the past years she practiced in architecture offices in Spain. Her research interests are the relationship between contentious resource ownership and knowledge frameworks in rural Lebanon.


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Durville, M.L.A., and R. Boerée, eds. 2012. Future Value Now! The Power of Multi-Functionality. Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, Agentschap NL.

Liniebreed Ondernemen Foundation (LOF). 2023. “Liniebreed Ondernemen – Forten en Waterlinies” [“Line-wide Entrepreneurship – Forts and Waterlines”]. Accessed January 10, 2024.

Luiten, Eric. 2011. “Gereanimeerd Erfgoed: Nationaal Project Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie als Format voor het Landschapsbeleid” [“Reanimated Heritage: National New Dutch Waterline Project as a Format for Landscape Policy”]. Bulletin KNOB 110, no. 6: 223–30.

Steenbergen, C.M., Johan van der Zwart, Joost Grootens, Rita Brons, and Koos Bosma. 2009. Atlas Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie [Atlas New Dutch Waterline]. Rotterdam: Uitgeverij 010.

UNESCO. n.d. “Ontdek het Verhaal van de Hollandse Waterlinies” [“Discover the Story of the Dutch Water Defence Lines”]. Accessed January 10, 2024.